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In the U.S., California earthquake devastates Adventist school

Napa Christian Campus of Education launches drive to raise $200,000 for reconstruction

In the U.S., California earthquake devastates Adventist school

Furniture scattered across a classroom in the Napa Christian Campus of Education in Napa, California, United States after a 6.0 earthquake struck on Sunday, August 24. [photo courtesy of Justine Leonie]

A powerful earthquake that struck the U.S. state of California last weekend badly damaged a Seventh-day Adventist school, forcing it to close just four days into the school year and to launch a drive to raise $200,000 for repairs.

The school, Napa Christian Campus of Education, appeared to be the only Adventist facility to sustain major damage in the 6.0 quake that rocked Napa County at 3:20 a.m. on Sunday, August 24. Pacific Union College, located nearly miles from the school, emerged unscathed.

The quake, California’s largest in 25 years, injured more than 200 people. It was not immediately clear whether any Adventists were among those injured. Early estimates put the total cost of quake damages at more than $1 billion.

The principal of the devastated school, Justine Leonie, said she was stunned to see the jumble of furniture, books, and other equipment when she first visited the classrooms after the quake. But she thanked God that the quake struck at night when none of her 130 students were on the premises.

"I was overwhelmed emotionally with the responsibility of the due diligence of an educator,” Leonie said in an interview Thursday. “We must make sure our kids are safe. We must never skimp on safety for our kids.”

Leonie said she was touched by an outpouring of compassion from high school and college students who have volunteered to assist in the school's cleanup. On Thursday, 29 second-year high school students and five adults drove the 65 miles (100 kilometers) from Lodi Academy to help sort through the mess.

“They were wonderful!” Leonie said.

The volunteers’ work even made the pages of a local newspaper.

The cleanup effort continued Friday with the arrival of students from Pacific Union College as well as members of the Napa church.

Marvin Wray, the senior pastor of the Napa Community Adventist Church, also encouraged prayers for members in the community who experienced damage in their homes.

The church itself has been in cleanup mode this week. The violence of the earthquake swung the chandeliers into the ceiling and rained glass down on the pews below. It also left the kitchen and the Adventist Community Services center a mess, and the church’s organ with bent pipes. All the equipment in the TV control room, where Napa streams its services live, fell to the floor.

“We are all just thankful that this was not any worse. God is good,” Wray said on a quake-related blog maintained by the Northern California Conference.

Wray also said his church has extended use of its premises at no cost to the local First United Methodist Church, whose early 20th-century building was severely damaged by the tremors and was expected to remain closed for at least a year. He was present to officially welcome the Methodist believers when they meet in the church for the first time on Sunday.